We completed Alpha Circuit for Ludum Dare 31, and I’m only now writing up some thoughts on it; making it a ridiculous 5 months late. I will cunningly backdate the blog post to fool onlookers into thinking I did it back in January. It’s the perfect crime.
What Went Wrong A 2-man effort from me and James, Alpha Circuit was probably not one of our best entries, and once it was finished neither of us had any desire to carry on with it. The theme was Entire Game on One Screen, and we started off with the idea of logging onto a server and playing the whole game through a sort of remote desktop window. Unfortunately the final game does not communicate this very well, and it just came across as a standard game with some cyber/hacker themes attached to it.
The gameplay was also a little confused. It was supposed to be a stealth game, but we tried to do too much in the short 3-day timeframe, and it ended up as a sort of stealth-lite action game. The problem this time was mainly me I think, I didn’t really have a clear plan for what I wanted to achieve or exactly what the gameplay should feel like, so it ended up a bit of a mess. Despite that, it did function - the enemies detected the player, the player could hide, run, teleport and attack from the shadows. So I guess we did sort of create a stealth game, albeit one that was pretty annoying to play. My pathfinding behaviour was also quite bad, it didn’t quite work perfectly, but mainly it made the game pretty slow on old machines.
What Went Right Despite the mixed gameplay results and lack of clarity, where we did achieve what we wanted was with the audio/visual experience. James created a consistent world that looked great and portrayed the cyber aspects really well. The whole game looked like a circuit board, and the virus/program enemies were really well designed. I was also super happy with my music this time, I feel like it was the best soundtrack I had created for a Ludum Dare and fitted well with James’ graphics.
Conclusion I think we learned a few things doing this game. On the plus side we are getting better at creating a consistent mood for our games, with graphics and audio meshing together well. We are also mostly fairly good at getting things finished with all the bells and whistles (pause menus, title screens etc).
What we need to improve on is our up front plan I think, we need to know exactly what we’re doing and what the parameters of the game are. I also need to get better at creating enemy pathfinding behaviours; I am really bad at it. The game actually scored pretty well, making it into the top 100, which I think was a result of the graphics and audio making up for some of the gameplay problems. I’d like to try a stealth game again at some point, but might leave it a while until I’ve improved my skills.